Friday, November 7, 2014

Putting together a coaching staff

Tom Brunansky
will be the hitting
coach again in
2015. It is apparently
a one-year deal.
The Twins on Thursday announced that Tom Brunansky will be kept on as hitting coach. One coach hired, six to go.

Bruno was probably the one incumbent most likely to be retained, but there are a couple others I can imagine returning. And couple I can't imagine being back, those being Rick Anderson and Scott Ullger.

Let's sort things out a bit:

Pitching coach: Probably the most crucial of the seven, especially considering that new manager Paul Molitor has never handled a pitching staff.
Bench coach: On some teams a sounding board on in-game moves, often the liaison between the analytic department and the manager.
Bullpen coach: On many teams, an assistant pitching coach. That was likely the role played the past two years by Bobby Cuellar; his predecessor, Rick Stelmaszek, was probably more of a coach to the catchers.
Hitting coach: Brunansky, of course.
Third base: Traditionally the first assistant manager, many of those roles have moved to the bench coach. The Twins the the past couple of years designated Joe Vavra as "infield coordinator,"
First base: Frequently involved in working on base stealing. Ullger was designated "outfield coordinator."
???: The seventh coach in many organizations has been turned into an assistant hitting coach. The Twins have not applied that designation to a coach. Molitor last year was entrusted with defensive positioning and baserunning; roles during the games were juggled because of Vavra's midsummer hip replacment surgery. What role the seventh coach would have under Molitor is unknown.

A few names, hardly comprehensive, to watch in all this:

Rick Renteria, ousted last week by the Chicago Cubs as manager to make room for Joe Maddon, might be a logical choice for bench coach. He's managed in the majors and minors, he's bilingual, he's available and he's already getting paid manager money by the Cubs.

Chris Bosio's 1987 Topps
card. He made his major
league debut in 1986/
Chris Bosio, currently the pitching coach of the Cubs, was a longtime teammate of Molitor in Milwaukee. While he still has two years on his contract in Chicago, Maddon may want his own guy in the role.

Frank Viola, 1987 World Series MVP and 1988 Cy Young winner with the Twins, has been working as a pitching coach in the Mets system for years.

Cuellar is an experienced pitching coach, is bilingual and might be a fit in either his current job or as Rick Anderson's replacment.

Doug Mientkiewicz was reportedly unhappy at being passed over for the big-league job. I suspect the organization will be better served if Dougie Alphabet is the manager at Double-A to guide the likes of Byron Buxton, Miguel Sano and Eddie Rosario, but it's possible they might put him on Molitor's staff.

Gene Glynn, another internal applicant, could be a fit at any of three spots -- bench, third base, first base. He has particular expertise in infield coaching, and if Danny Santana is to be the shortstop, there's a lot of work to be done there.

Eddie Guardado strikes me as a possible bullpen coach.

I don't see Jack Morris as the pitching coach. He lacks Viola's experience at working with a staff full-time. And given Molitor's complete inexperience in that aspect of the game, I would expect experience to be considered a necessity.

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